Sunday, January 30, 2011

American Pika

(Image Source)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Lagomorpha
Family : Ochotonidae
Genus : Ochotona
Species : princeps

Length : 6-8in (15-20cm)
Weight : 6oz (170g)

IUCN Status : Least Concern

Pikas are small, round little members of the Lagomorph order. There are around two dozen different species of Pika which can be found in mountainous habitats around the world. The American Pika, and its name might suggest, is found in the mountains of Western Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In the northern part of their range they can sometimes be found at sea level, but the species is not very tolerant of warm weather. In the south they are rarely found at elevations lower than 2,500m.

(Image Source)
American Pikas are extremely vocal little guys. In fact, Pikas are sometimes referred to as whistling hares. They make calls to warn each other about potential predators and intruders, to establish territories, and also as a part of their mating behavior. Pikas live in colonies, with individuals having their own territory within the colony.

They are a diurnal, herbivorous species that forages for a variety of plant materials. They store excess materials in piles that they dry out and move to their dens. American Pikas do not hibernate in winter, and depend on these stocks for a bulk of their food during that season.

American Pikas are listed as being of Least Concern, but overall their population is declining. Fragmented habitats have caused low population densities, and feral cats have had an impact as well well.


  1. These creatures are sooo cute! I want to hear their vocalizing. I imagine it to be high pitched and chirpy. I have never seen these in any local zoos, so I am going to have to track down the closest place that I can see them up close. Thanks!

  2. I've never seen one in a zoo myself, but I'd love to get a look at one up close. So cute!


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